With the Australian Open heading into the second week, I thought it would be appropriate to take a look back at the last week and give you my thoughts on everything I’ve seen and watched this week in little snippets. I’ve been lucky enough to receive accreditation for the event thanks to my job, so I have been to the tennis everyday. It’s a tough life really, but someone’s gotta do it.
Player of the tournament so far:
Gael Monfils. The man is a genius, maybe not in the traditional Roger Federer, makes everything look so easy kinda way, but quite the opposite. With a game more erratic than a teenage girl’s emotions, he may well be the most entertaining player to watch. Or should that be frustrating?
Watching his match on Margaret Court Arena against Dolgopolov was one of the more entertaining matches I caught in the first few days, mostly due to one Flashy Frenchman. Serving 220km/h bombs down the T at will, followed by double faults, he finished with the impressive (coach killer) stats of 26 aces and 16 doubles faults. He also started off the match with 5 consecutive aces. The crowd were devastated when he missed his sixth.
Gael Monfils serving in front of a packed MCA (on an iPhone, hence the dodgy-ish quality)
Then his match with Simon came along which featured a ridiculous 71 shot rally. Sure, it wasn’t the prettiest or flashiest of rallies, but still, 71 shots is triple the length of what many would call a long rally and when you have Henri Leconte in the commentary booth going nuts, it’s hard not to smile.
Finally, in his second round match against Yen-Hsun Lu, he managed to achieve another simply brilliant (coach killer) feat – double faulting not once but four times on match point in the final game. He even came out after the match and said after hitting an unreturnable serve on his fifth match point that “It was more like I need to ace because I knew it would be double fault for sure,”
So for pure entertainment value, Monfils gets my player of the tournament so far, even if it’s for the wrong reasons. Sorry Novak, you’re entertaining and rather funny, but you just missed the cake. Maybe you need to try dance to Gangnam Style more? (Side note: please don’t).
Injuries are without a doubt the worst part of tennis and sport and probably the unluckiest tennis player would be Brian Baker. Playing in his first-ever Australian Open at 27 years old, Baker had just won the first set against compatriot Sam Querry before his knee gave way. He was pushed off in a wheelchair and faces another fresh battle to return from another crippling injury.
After reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon last year, things were looking up for Baker and he was one of the feel-good stories of last year. Let’s just hope he can come back from his fifth (FIFTH!) major surgery.
What really grinds my gears:
To quote Peter Griffin, there are a number of things that really grind my gears and does my head in at the tennis, none more so than people who don’t understand the simple rules of watching tennis live. I get that you probably follow tennis for two weeks a year and think you are an expert on Bernard Tomich, Novak Djokevich and how Aussie tennis isn’t how it used to be, but please, keep reading and take note:
One – you don’t talk during points, simple enough but some idiots just don’t understand
Two – Don’t enter the court when it’s not a change of ends, and if you do, sit down! Once again, not that hard.
Three – yes, sometimes you have to wait to get into the bigger outside courts, and yes people already have seats saved, once you’re inside you will relish the chance to leave for some food and drinks and still have a seat, so please, do the rest of us a favour and stop complaining while you wait! Abusing the volunteers who look after the gates do it tough enough without you yelling at them.
OK, no more ranting, let’s look at the positives. The Australian Open has once again proved it is one of the premier sporting events in Australian and even the world. It never ceases to amaze me that year after year they find ways to continually improve and enhance the experience for everyone who attends.
The new viewing deck over the main practice courts has given hundreds more fans the chance to view their favourites, while including practice times for every court has improved the accessibility of all the players, from the lower ranked ones to the Federer and Sharapova’s of the world.
Victoria Azarenka practicing while the crowd watches on from the viewing deck
Without the practice schedule, I wouldn’t have been able to watch Richard “best looking backhand in the world” Gasquet practice on an outside court
One of my favourite parts about sport is what people say during the matches, so I have included a few of the pearlers I’ve overheard during the first week:
Baghdatis v Ferrer, start of the match: “It’s in the Bag, Dhatis!”
The one guy who kept standing up at each change of ends and singing a whole song dedicated to Ana Ivanovic was a highlight. Some classics included “opa Ana Style” and “Call me Ana”. Hilarious.
While watching Almagro v Janowicz, lady behind me: “This should be a jolly match!”
During the all Aussie Duckworth v Mitchell match: “Come on Mitchell, duck him up!”
But my favourite was the banter myself and my brother had with Aussie John Millman while he was versing Robin Haase in a practice match on Friday. Haase had a coach and another person on court, while Millman had no one, so naturally my brother yelled out “hey Jonny, need a coach?” He just smiled and shook his head. They changed ends and he cheekily said “I can’t afford one, Tennis Australia spend too much on Bernie!” I’m still laughing. I proceeded to give him some advice on moving forward into his serve and applauding his good shots, we had a good chat after, he thanked us for coming out and said he appreciated the advice. What a champ.
Of course, groups such as The Heard and The Fanatics always provide some highlights with their antics, which you can read about here.
Dishonourable mention goes to the idiots in the Sharapova crowd who imitated her grunt in between points. Not funny.
Onto the tennis:
I’ve said it since the end of last year, but I still think Andy Murray will take out the men’s title. Most of the focus has been around Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, but I think he will relish that and has gone quietly about his business. I think the women’s title will be taken out by either Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova. Sharapova has been dishing out bagels more freely than she plugs her new Sugarpova line of lollies, while you can never discount Serena when the second week wraps up.
But then again, I said Grigor Dimitrov was my smoky this year in the men’s draw, so what do I know? Although I did also say Berdych as well, and he is another player who has been sneaking under the radar with some impressive results. I can tell you one thing though – David “best grinder in tennis” Ferrer will not win the Australian Open.
I’ve also gotta put my two cents in about the Aussies performances. Although we only had Tomic reach the third round, every Aussie impressed me but lacked that final killer blow to finish the match off. Matty Ebden was up two sets to love in his first round match, Marinko Matosevic could have easily been up two sets to love if he took his break point chances, James Duckworth fought valiantly to go down in five amazingly tough sets in 40 degree heat and even Bojana Bobusic was close to nabbing the first set of Radwanksa. The signs are good for the future, and with juniors such as Ash Barty, Nick Kyrgios, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Storm Sanders and Luke Saville all looking good, hopefully we can have a number of players move into the top 100 and 200 in 2013.
And lastly, here is a pic I took of the lovable (hate-able for some) Ana Ivanovic fist pump:
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